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Parish ask funeral directors to ‘negotiate’ new £350 funeral fee from bereaved families

Newry Cathedral

Bereaved families in Newry will be asked to stump up £350 to cover the cost of a funeral to help cover rising costs for the Church.

Newry Cathedral Parish has written to local funeral directors asking them to “negotiate” the fee with the families which will now be expected to pay £250 and a £100 stipend for the priest.

On Friday, Armagh I detailed plans of the parish’s plan to charge newlyweds £400 towards the cost of their nuptials, with an enhanced fee to help cover the bill for lighting and heating the church.

However, in a letter obtained by Armagh I, the parish has also written to local funeral directors urging them to implore families to fork up £350 to “meet the costs of heating and lighting the Church”.

The letter to funeral directors, signed by the three chairs of Newry, Saval, Donaghmore finance councils, states that “the priests and representatives of the finance councils of the parishes within the St Brigid’s deanery (Newry, Saval and Donaghmore) met following a request to do so by the Archbishop at a recent conference.

“Given the financial situation in parishes with the reduction in collections, high energy prices, the parishes were asked to consider ways to generate income.

“The three parishes agreed that for the use of the Church for a funeral, to meet the costs of heating and lighting the church, the family would be asked to pay £250 and a stipend of £100 for the priest.”

However, the letter asks the funeral directors to take on the responsibility of obtaining the fee, to which they will pass on to the parish.

The letter added: “The parish would appreciate the funeral director negotiating these charges with the family and forwarding the amount to the parish. However, if you consider that a family is unable to pay, the charges should be waived.

“We appreciate your co-operation in this matter, and it is our hope that the charges would begin on January 31, 2023.”

One local funeral director, who did not wish to be named, said they will not be used as a debt collector adding that the fee, regardless of time of year, will not change – “there is no heating required in summer”.

The funeral director made several points:

– Funeral directors are expected to foot the cost….if we don’t get paid for the funeral (which is unfortunately often) we are out £350.

– Priests already receive a salary without the mandatory tip.

– Most funerals in their parish take place during a normal mass timing i.e are the bereaved family therefore paying a fee for a public mass to be celebrated where it would have been anyways?

The plans to generate more money comes in a week when a new contactless card reader system was installed at the back of Newry Cathedral to allow parishioners and visitors to make an easy and secure donation for the maintenance and preservation of the building.

Parishioners can now use a touchscreen to select the amount they wish to donate and tap their credit or debit card to make a donation, while also able to enter an email address to receive a receipt, if required.

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